Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Oddball occurences

Issue: "Meltdown," April 22, 2006

Plant food

It's hard to imagine how a researcher thought to test this one out. If your houseplant needs a pick-me-up, one scientist claims liquor is quicker. That's because, according to the research of a Cornell University horticulturist, giving a houseplant shots of tequila, rum, whiskey, or vodka could actually be beneficial. According to the researcher, the alcohol stunts the growth of the roots and stem without affecting the blooms-leaving the plant to stand tall, but not tall enough to fall over.

Animal testing

The drama surrounding an Illinois alpaca has all the makings of a barnyard edition of the Jerry Springer show. Alpaca breeder Cathy Crosson filed a lawsuit against Likada Farms of Wayne, Ill., for allegedly mating the wrong male alpaca with her prize-winning animal, Peruvian Lily of the Incas, and now refusing to say which animal sired the baby alpaca. Ms. Crosson says that without knowing the offspring's true father, she can't sell the baby. One possible solution: paternity tests.

Catwalk dogs

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Perhaps some New Yorkers can't figure out how to spend more money on themselves, thus making their dogs the objects of their spending habits. The scene at a recent Gotham nightclub included a new bit for the fashion-conscious-a dog fashion show. Stella Keitel, daughter of actor Harvey Keitel, was one of many people walking dogs down the catwalk dressed in everything from a Marilyn Monroe replica dress to a purple tutu. "There's a lot more barking," she said, "and a lot more interesting smells."

Out of order

Imagine: 600 elementary-school students and no working bathrooms. That was the quandary at Bonham Elementary in Abilene, Texas, on April 5 after a water-main break rendered the school's bathrooms useless for a day. Teachers told students to wait to use bathrooms until buses took each class to other schools. School administrators kept the nonflushing toilets available for dire emergencies. The amazing thing: no accidents.

Retriever retrieved

Count one mystery solved in New Hampshire. For two years, Sam the Golden Retriever bested state officials and lived as a wild dog after escaping from his home with Peg and Dennis Sklarski of Deerfield, N.H. Authorities had tried everything to lure the "Golden Ghost" back from the lam-satellite tracking, helicopter searches, dart guns-but nothing seemed to work. But where fancy gadgets failed, cruder methods worked. Authorities recently caught the runaway dog the old-fashioned way-a dog bowl filled with ham and a net.

Staying alive

Zdenek Bucek's survival story was a bit slimy. When the 30-year-old Czech man cut through the woods on foot near the southeastern town of Breclav, he never expected floodwaters to rise and trap him in the forest. But when the cold water came up, Mr. Bucek had nowhere to go but a small patch of high ground. There he stayed alive by drinking floodwater and eating frogs until he was rescued four days later.

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